As of today, I have been living in the PNW for one month.
Thanks to my mom – who urged me to renew my position as an Auxiliar, I will be returning to Spain in late September. In the meantime, however, all I can do is sit patiently and cross the days off the calendar. My love for Spain first blossomed when I studied abroad in León, a city located in the northwestern part of Spain. While my time there was short (the program was a quarter long), I was exposed to so much culture and new experiences, I was dying to go back as soon as I returned to the US. Luckily for me, the North American Culture and Language Assistant’s in Spain gave me that opportunity this past year.
León – Santiago de Compostela: Studying vs. Working and Living
My experiences in León and Santiago de Compostela differed significantly. I studied in León through the University of Washington with a group of other UW students. We lived with host families, went to school, wrote papers, studied, etc. In Santiago, I still went to school, but in a different sense. I was no longer required to sit in a desk, listen, write papers, etc. I was in front of the classroom. I lived in my own apartment, didn’t have to study… You get the picture. In Santiago I was on my own.
The transition from León to Seattle was relatively easy in comparison to Santiago to Seattle. I met some really great people in León and Santiago. The big difference was that many of those people I met in León were coming back to the states with me. In Santiago, I was forced to say goodbyes to many.
Spain: What I miss
I miss Galicia, a lot. While living there, we had terrible rains. A number of times, I talked to friends back home who would say, “Ohh! It’s just like Seattle.” Which is exactly what i thought before I moved, but the truth is is that it rains A LOT MORE. Three straight months of rain/storms was intense. It rains so much in Galicia that they have different names for specific types of rain. And although I’m not a huge fan of rain, Galicia is absolutely stunning because of it – everything is so green and lush.
I miss going to “tomar algo” with friends, I miss the wine (Mencia and Albariño), I miss the food (pulpo, tortilla, calamares a la plancha), I miss hearing the bagpipes while walking through the city.
The region in which Santiago de Compostela is located in is called Galicia. The people of Galicia (Gallegos) have their own language, which is called Gallego/Galician. It is a mix of Portuguese and Spanish. One of my favorite words in Galician is ‘morriña,’ which comes from the Portuguese word ‘saudade’. It means a feeling of longing, melancholy or nostalgia. However, morriña has connotations that specifically apply to the region of Galicia. It means the nostalgia of Galicia, the sadness and longing for the place where one once was. This is what I have been feeling ever since I returned.
The US: What I am happy to have
This one should be a given, but I am happy to be with my family. I love being able to go downstairs in the morning and seeing my parents drinking their morning coffee and reading the newspaper and I love being able to see my siblings whenever I want.
I am also enjoying going to the grocery store on Sundays and the fact that banks don’t close at 2:00 PM.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsh
Packing my bags and moving to a country by myself really forced me to take a step outside of my comfort zone. I was forced to put myself out there in order to find a place to live and meet people. While abroad, I was able to travel quite a bit. I traveled to a number of places in Spain as well as Belgium, France, Germany, Morocco, Italy and Holland. I am beyond grateful to have seen and experienced so many new places in such a short period of time. I still find myself becoming nervous about visiting cities and countries where I don’t speak the language, but I’ve learned that you can learn so much from these unfamiliar experiences.